Singer on health, weight loss journey

‘American Idol’ frontrunner with ties to Florida is a fan favourite.


  • Willie Spence made “American Idol” decide Katy Perry cry (in a great way)
  • Willie suffered a well being scare originally of the pandemic
  • Fans of “American Idol” are tweeting and posting their help for the 21-year-old caretaker

Shine vibrant like a diamond, Willie Spence.

That phrase has turn into synonymous with the 21-year-old caretaker, who was born in Palm Beach County, as he competes to be the subsequent “American Idol.” The season 19 finalist auditioned for the ABC actuality present competitors with a heart-stopping rendition of Rihanna’s tune, “Diamonds.” His efficiency was so good, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan gave Spence a golden ticket, a coveted “in” to the competitors.

Here are some issues to find out about Spence and his quest to be the subsequent “American Idol.” The present airs at 8 p.m. Sundays. Please observe, this roundup comprises spoilers.

If he wins, he’d be the nineteenth ‘American Idol’

Super followers understand it’s technically season 4 of the ABC reboot (the present beforehand aired on Fox for 15 seasons earlier than taking a two-year hiatus), however the present is billed as season 19. The judges are Perry, Bryan and Richie, however — spoiler alert — unique “American Idol” decide Paula Abdul does seem as a visitor decide this season. Original host Ryan Seacrest additionally hosts the ABC model.

The 2021 season additionally is exclusive due to the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing, masks and different CDC pointers have been in place throughout filming. Spoiler alert, Spence sports activities a masks whereas strolling across the theme park for the present’s “Disney night time” episode.

If Spence is topped “American Idol,” he’d be the nineteenth singer to win the title. Below is a gallery of all of the “American Idol” winners over time and a few well-known faces from the present.

Family is vital to him

During his “American Idol” audition, which aired in February, Spence informed Richie, Perry and Bryan that he sings not only for himself but in addition for his household, who lives in Riviera Beach. Spence at present lives in Atlanta. Though Spence grew up in Douglas, Georgia, he was born in Palm Beach County. “American Idol” footage confirmed him standing in entrance of his grandparents’ residence in Florida. 

About that tune

He selected “Diamonds” by Rihanna for his audition piece. It’s a tune he credit with boosting his profession a few years in the past when a video of him singing it in highschool went viral.

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That one time he made Top 12: Oh, yeah, Willie Spence shines bright light a ‘diamond’ on ‘American Idol’

What songs did he sing?

Besides “Diamonds,” Spence has carried out these songs on “American Idol:”

• “I Was Here” by Beyoncé

• On the “Oscar night time” episode, he closed the present with Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up” from the movie “Harriet.”

• When contestants confronted the “style problem,” Spence selected John Legend’s “All of Me.” 

• On the “duets spherical,” this season got here with a twist: reasonably than select their associate, the three judges selected the pairings for them. Spence was matched with singer Kya Moneé from Austin, Texas.

• His first efficiency for outdoor votes was “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.

• For his superstar pairing, Spence teamed up with singer Katharine McPhee, who was a earlier contestant on “American Idol.” The actress was runner-up in season 5, which undoubtedly launched her profession. Spoiler alert, on the episode, Spence informed McPhee he needed to dedicate the efficiency to his hero: his grandfather, who he mentioned had lately died of COVID-19. Willie Roger Singleton, Spence’s grandfather, was a pastor in Palm Beach County earlier than retiring. He lived in Riviera Beach, on the residence featured in an episode of “American Idol.” McPhee, in flip, informed Spence she would dedicate their efficiency to her father, Daniel McPhee, who died in 2018. Together, they took the stage to sing “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

• Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”

• On “Disney Night,” when contestants carried out songs from Disney films, Spence delivered a efficiency of “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” His rendition earned him a standing ovation.

Health scare

In March, originally of the pandemic, Spence informed the Palm Beach Post that he spent per week within the hospital. After experiencing a ache in his chest, docs had informed him they discovered fluid in his lungs, and he was admitted.

“I weighed 600 kilos,” he mentioned on the present. “And once they informed me that, I knew I needed to focus extra on my well being.”

He mentioned he’s now misplaced over 180 kilos. After leaving the hospital, he began exercising and “doing what I needed to do for my well being.” And then, he mentioned, it felt prefer it was time for a change in his profession.

“All my life I’ve all the time, you recognize, struggled with my weight, however this 12 months has been a tricky 12 months,” he mentioned. “Me being within the hospital actually scared me. I believed I wasn’t going to outlive.”

Spence shares his weight reduction and well being updates together with his followers on social media (see beneath).

Another Team Sunshine singer

Spence isn’t the one “American Idol” contestant/Top 7 finalist with a Florida tie.

From Southwest Florida, 16-year-old highschool scholar Casey Bishop additionally has wowed judges and audiences together with her powerhouse voice. Like Spence, the excessive schooler has been a fan favourite, often performing rock songs on “American Idol.”

Bishop — a sophomore at Fort Myers’ Center for the Arts at Cypress Lake High School — was 15 when the present was filmed in November.


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‘Diamonds’ made him shine

Spence pinned a video of him singing “Diamonds” on Dec. 27, 2017, on his Twitter feed. The clip has gotten greater than 31,000 views on Twitter and hundreds extra on-line.

“I’ll always remember today! I’m so glad I made a decision to sing this tune “Diamonds” by Rihanna 🎶✨”

When Willie sang ‘Diamonds,’ he went viral AND he obtained ‘Idol’

As talked about above, Spence obtained the golden ticket after his efficiency and posted the information on social media.

“American Idol” tweeted out a congrats when Spence made the Top 12.

He’s been figuring out

On the present, producers shined a lightweight on Spence’s well being scare and weight reduction journey. The singer admits he’s struggled together with his weight, however movies on social media present him figuring out and getting outcomes.

In an April 28, 2021, video tweet of him figuring out, he compares himself to a Disney god: “Like Hercules 🏆 I be “going the gap” in my each day exercise…💪🏾‼️ Speaking of Hercules, y’all prepared for Disney night time on @americanidol this Sunday night time?! Any guesses what tune I’ll be singing?”

Katy Perry is a fan

Ok however is anybody truly shocked @WillieSpence is within the prime 24? #AmericanIdol 

She was blown away by Spence (once more)

In April, Katy Perry tweeted Spence’s efficiency once more.

@Williespence took us on a RIDE and had us feeling all the sentiments throughout his efficiency wowww 🤩 #AmericanIdol 

His singing made her cry

Even although he made her cry within the “duets” problem … “Seeing @katyperry cry 😢 made me wanna begin crying 😩!! I actually loved singing within the Duets Challenge 🎤”

Maxwell Caulfield is a fan, too

Actor Maxwell Caulfield (“Grease 2,” the unique “Dynasty”) is outwardly a fan: “Both @Williespence & @GraceKinstler blew through the roof on Sunday! The competitors #AmericanIdol  simply obtained severely fierce. Now right down to a powerful 7…….”

Spence has a strong social media presence

• On YouTube, greater than 500,000 individuals subscribe to his channel.

• On Instagram, he has greater than 442,000 followers.

• On Twitter, greater than 7,000 individuals observe his tweets.

• On Facebook, his fan web page has greater than 66,000 followers. 

He beloved his late grandfather, very a lot

As talked about above, Spence devoted his duet efficiency with McPhee to his late grandfather.

He (already) has fan artwork on Instagram

@ryanmartinart, a fan, posted a portray of the singer on Instagram — with an unbelievable likeness, too — and the “American Idol” singer undoubtedly observed. “I must get me a pic of this to hold in my home,” he replied on the put up. The title of the portray? Aptly referred to as “Diamonds,” based on the artist’s Instagram put up.

Drawings of Willie Spence …

The captions on the Instagram posts give Spence good vibes and prayers to assist him make it to the subsequent spherical.

One piece of fan artwork has Willie carrying a halo. (We’re guessing it is as a result of he sings like an angel.)


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Staff video, USA TODAY

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